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Braithwaite, Whinlatter Pass, Hobcarton Gill, Hospital Plantation, Cumbria.
[ 14.9 km] Tue 03 Jan 2012

NY 2272 2377
It was a very difficult drive north along the M6 motorway because of the high winds and torrential rain. Things were quite bad near Tebay with a cross wind and so much water on the road surface that the cats-eyes were covered and it was like driving into a dark hole. After passing Keswick I drove to Braithwaite then a short way up Whinlatter Pass to park in a small car park. Id already modified my plans as going over the summits would not be sensible in the severe wind.

Forestry warnings

My original plan was to walk along the road over Whinlatter Pass and climb Hopegill Head from the NW ridge. I decided to walk up to Hobcarton Gill instead and see if there was a way up to the ridge. Over Whinlatter it was straightforward going up but over the summit the headwind was gusting very strongly. After passing Swinside Houses I took the small track to the left which descends to a stone slab bride across Blaze Beck.

Path no entry, looks like a one way system

The track is old, unused and is hardly recognisable. At Swinside Plantation I turned left and followed the fence to rejoin the track through the plantation to the open fell below Hopehill Head. So far so good. As soon as I left the trees behind I got a severe battering from the wind.

Below Hopehill Head

So my theory about the valley bottom giving some shelter was wrong. Higher up the valley the velocity gusted to something like 90mph. I knew this as Id experienced that velocity before and measured it with my anemometer. Several times I was knocked to the ground and was unable to get up till the wind dropped a bit. There was no change of getting higher so I decided to cross the valley and make for the forestry track on the opposite side. I made it without any problems and headed north along the track towards Whinlatter Pass.

A bit of shelter in the woods

Back into the trees there was a bit of shelter making the walking much easier. At the first major track junction I came across a cycling way marker and decided to try and follow it back towards Braithwate and avoid re-joining the road. It was nice to find that there is a forestry track running higher and almost parallel to the Whinlatter Pass road and I was able to keep to the forest through Hospital Plantation and all the way back to open fell above Braithwaite. A well used path took me steeply down and right back to the car.

This was a classic case of serendipity (the accident of finding something good or useful without looking for it)

Walking through Hospital Plantation I saw several thoughtful quotes cut in slate and mounted on wooden posts.